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Munster, or of the counties of Kilkenny, or. Carlow, on account of Tithe, or the collection of Tithes, and if any, to report the same, with their opinion thereupon.' ,66 In this Committee I shall state, and bring evidence of the grievances under which the wretched people labour.-In 'this Committee I shall also submit what occurs to me as the proper remedy. -I do not wish, in the first instance, to usher these matters to the House, because, as Į said before, I am unwilling to risk the interest of the Clergy--the cause of the Poor--the happiness of the country, upon my opinion. Let me , then beseech an inquiry, from which much good, and no mischief whatever can possibly result:?
The Attorney-General (Mr. Fitzgibbon, afterwards Lord Clare) and colonel Hobart, objected strongly to the mode pointed out by Mr. Grattan. io 77.
Mr. GRATTAN immediately rose, and spoke as follows: . “Sir, the people in the South have grievances, and one of their principal grievances is Tithe-do not take it upon my authority, go into a committee. It has been said, in defence of clerical exactions, that though sometimes exorbi.
tant, they have never been illegal, I deny it; and will produce proof at your bar, that exactions in some of the disturbed parts have been not exorbitant only, but illegal likewise.
I will prove that, in many instances, Tithe .bas been demanded, and paid for turf; that Tithe of turf has been assessed at one or two shillings a house like Hearth-money ; and in addition to Hearth-money, with this difference, that in case of Hearth-money, there is an exemption for the poor of a certain description ; but here, it is the poor of the poorest order, that is, the most resistless people, who pay. I will prove to you, that men have been excommunicated by a most illegal sentence, for refusing to pay tithe of turf. I have two , decrees in my hand from the Vicarial Court of Clyne; the first excommunicating one man,,, the second excommunicating four men, most illegally, most arbitrarily, for refusing to pay tithe, of turf: nor has tithe of turf, without pretence of law or custom, been a practice only ; but in some part of the South, it has been a formed exaction with its own distinct and facetions appellation, the familiar denomination of Smoak-monex A right to tithe of turf , has heen usurped against law, and a legislative power of commutation has been exercised, I suppose for familiarity of appellation and facility of collection : . I am ready, if the House will go into the inquiry, to name the men the parish, and all the cir. cumstances. 11" I understand, that in some cases this demand has ceased; that is, it has been interrupted by the torror of resistence ; not by a respect for the law (a sad encouragement this to disturbance) but even in some of these cases the claim has been preserved, though the attempt has been deterred; and to an endeavour to preserve this claim, and to insert it in the body of the agreement with the parish, are we to attribute, in some places, I understand, the defeat of composition and of concord. *** It has been urged, the law would relieve in the case of demand for tithe of turf but you have admitted the poverty of the peasant, and you cannot deny the expense of litigation. "Sir, "the law has been applied, and has not - relieved. > :*66 I have authority from a person, now a most eminent judge, and some years ago a most distinguished lawyer, to affirm to this House, that be, in the course of his profession, did repeatedly take exceptions to libels in the Spiritual Court for title of turf, and that they
were uniformly over-ruled ; and I have the same authority to affirm to you, that the Spiritual Courts do maintain a right to tithe for turf, and that in 'so doing, they have acted, and do act, in gross violation of the law.
*** I am informed that Tithe has been demanded for furze spent on the premises ; and therefore, in circumstances not subject to Tithe, a' demand oppressive to the poor, and repugnant to the law.
“ Under this head the allegation is, that in some of the disturbed parishes of the South, Tithe has been demanded and paid, without custom, and against law; and that the Ecclesiastical Courts have allowed such demands against law, and this will be verified on oath.
.. IL “ The exactions of the Tithe-proctor are año. ther instance of illegality-he gets, 'he exacts, he extorts 'from the parishioners, in some tof the disturbed parishes, one, frequently two shil! lings in the pound. The clergyman's agent is then paid by the parish, and paid extravagantly. The landlord's agent is not paid in this manner; your tenants don't pay your agent ten per cent. or five per cent. or any per centage at all : What right has the clergyman to throw his agent on his parish? As well might he make them pay the wages of his butler,'' or
his footman, or his coachman, or his postillion, or his cook.
“This demand, palpably illegal, must have commenced in bribery- an illegal perquisite growing out of the abuse of power-a bribe for mercy ;-as if the Tithe-proctor was the natural pastoral protector of the poverty of the peasant, against the possible oppressions of the law, and the exactions of the gospel. He was supposed to take less than his employer would exact, or the law would allow,; and was bribed by the sweat of the poor for his perfidy and mercy. This original bribe has now become a stated perquisite ; And, instead of being payment for moderation, it is now a per centage on rapacity. The more he extorts for the parson, the more he shall get for himself.
5. Are there any decent Clergymen, who will defend such a practice ? Will they allow that the men they employ are ruffians, who would cheat the parson, if they did not plunder the poor; and that the clerical remedy against connivance, is to make the poor pay a premium for the increase of that plunder and exaction of wbich they them. selyes are the objects ? , “ I excuse the Tithe proctor ; the law is in fault, which gives great and summary powers to the indefinite, claims of the Church, and suffers both to be vested in the hands,